"Window replacements are expensive." So often that is the response to the question of whether or not your home needs window renovations. All home renovations aside, old or poorly installed windows can cost as much as brand-new windows in terms of wasted energy over the course of a few years.
How do you know it's time for change?
Do you see peeling paint revealing warped or water-damaged wood? Is nearby carpeting and furniture faded? Do you feel drafts near closed windows? Are outside noises seemingly loud from the inside? Have your energy bills been unnaturally high year-round? If you answered yes to any of these, it's time for an upgrade.
What's the difference?
New windows increase the resale value of your home and can block UV rays that damage your home's belongings. Weak windows make it easy for criminals to break into homes whereas newer windows are sturdier and provide more security. The most economically efficient benefit of purchasing new windows, however, lies in the fact that with new energy efficient you can save between 27 to 38 percent on heating bills and 16 to 32 percent on cooling bills.
What do I do now?
The most difficult decision to make when it comes to replacing your windows is choosing the right style. Overall cost depends on style and quality of materials, what type of glass is used, overall energy efficiency and warranties. The good news is there are so many options to choose from.
Double-Hung and Tilt-Turn Windows
Classic in appearance, double-hung windows offer excellent control of ventilation. They have an upper outside sash that slides down and a lower inside sash that slides up. Hidden springs, weights or friction devices help lift, lower and position the sash. With certain models, sashes can be removed, rotated or tilted for cleaning. Windows with only one sliding sash is referred to as "single-hung."
A variation of double-hung windows is the tilt-turn. These windows offer distinctive European styling and have a special advantage over conventional double-hung windows: they tilt in toward the room at the top and also turn a full 180 degrees ideal for easy cleaning. This feature makes tilt-turn windows perfect emergency exits in case of fire. Multipoint locking systems are available for tilt-turn windows, adding security and keeping windows tightly sealed.
Hung singly or in pairs, casement windows are side-mounted on hinges and are operated by cranks that swing the sash inward or outward, though the latter is most common. These windows open fully for easy cleaning and offer excellent ventilation because they "scoop in" breezes.
These windows may have one or more fixed panels in addition to one or more panels that slide in horizontal tracks. Only half of the total window may be opened at a time for ventilation.
Awning and Hopper Windows
Best described as horizontal casements, awning windows are top-hinged. Top-hinged windows tilt out at the bottom offering partial ventilation, an unobstructed view and decent security. Hopper windows are bottom-hinged as opposed to their top-hinged counterparts. Hoppers are normally used specifically for ventilation above a door or another window where they are protected by eaves.
Jalousie (Louvered) Windows
Jalousie windows are similar to glass shutters made from several parallel panes of glass that open in unison. The word "jalousie" is the French word for jealousy and, in the 16th century, referred to shuttered covers for window openings. Like today's wood shutters, early covering employed a series of wooden slats sloped to shed rain and obscure direct sun but admit air and light. Installed in many warm-climate American homes before the widespread popularity of air conditioning, Jalousie windows have fallen out of favor because most permit excessive air infiltration between panes.
Bay and Bow Windows
These are not really windows, rather a series of three windows. Bay windows project out from a house wall, forming an open interior bay or recess. This design is particularly effective at gathering light and offering a more expansive view than a single window.
Bay windows consist of a center flanked by two side windows that return to the house wall at an angle of either 30 or 45 degrees. Although the center sash is usually larger and fixed, the two side windows are often operable casement or double-hung sashes. When bay windows were first created in the mid-15th century, the windows had rectangular, polygonal or semicircular forms; today any curved series of windows is called a bow. Because bay and bow windows project out, they are usually capped with their own small roof or covering. Some large bay and bow windows also surround an interior window seat. Major window manufacturers sell both styles as ready-to-install, assembled units that are made from your choice of wood, vinyl or aluminum.
A light-allowing alternative to conventional windows, glass block windows are used in both exterior and internal walls. Various patterns allow varying degrees of view and privacy.
Now that your options are clear, you're ready to venture into the wonderful world of window installment. It will be a long and arduous process, however you and your family can now rest easy knowing your home will be economical, secure and energy efficient.